Let me tell you the tale of the Trunyan Cemetery, located on Lake Batur, in Kintamani, Bali. The village dates back 1,100 years and lays it's dead to rest above ground, only a few bodies lay there as when it's time to place a new body they remove the one that's been there the longest and place the bones under a tree with all previous villagers, the tree gives off a fragrance that masks the smell of the decompostion.
To get there I was taken on the back of a motorbike around the lake to the village and from there I was escorted by two villagers via boat to the cemetery, when I arrived the boat pulled up to this small dock with some stairs leading up to the cemetery, straight away there were 2 skulls at the entrance. I didn't know what to expect but my first thought was "it's a lot smaller than I imagined" Then I saw the skulls and the bamboo tents that cover the bodies, this made me slow down as I approached and was surprised to see monkeys in the area. I made my way over to where they place the bones of the older villagers first as I thought this would best prepare me for what I might see later. I was struck by how small the skulls were and the variation of the decay, a lot were green from algae or fungus that had grown on them overtime but some were true bone colour and obviously the newest ones.
Then I walked over to the bamboo thatch tent like structures that cover the decomposing bodies, I didn't know what to expect or how I would react, I had seen images where some of the bodies were quite new and you could make out the face of the person, for me though the bodies had been there for quite some time as they were only bones.
I left Trunyan with a wonder and respect for the village life, even in this day and age they have it quite hard but from the villagers I met they all had a smile, a simple life I guess can sometimes be the most rewarding. There is a school there so at least the children are being educated and the old traditions are passed down from generation to generation and hopefully for a long time to come.